Suggested Timeline for Messaging
Anticipating the likely attendance pattern helps you set an effective calendar of messaging and events. Typically attendance in September and October is high, followed by a dip in November and an even deeper drop in December and in January after the winter break. It often takes until spring to get attendance back toward the rates from the start of the year.
Here are 3 highlights not to miss:
Here is a calendar of opportunities and materials that might stimulate ideas that keep attendance awareness high and happy.
Use home visits, orientations and other messaging opportunities to convey the importance of attendance and introduce ideas for monitoring absences.
As school starts, use orientations and other messaging opportunities to convey the importance of attendance and introduce ideas for monitoring absences.
Join communities across the country who are celebrating Attendance Awareness Month with assemblies, proclamations and family events. Introduce children to the tracking scorecards.
Begin recognizing students for good and improved attendance. Work with parents to identify challenges that are keeping children from school and brainstorm about who can help them.
Plan a celebration to honor parents and students for attendance. Time it just before Thanksgiving, along with food give aways if appropriate, to ensure everyone shows up. Remind people about the importance of attendance around the holidays.
Plan a celebration just before the winter holiday honoring families and students. Encourage children to invite grandparents and other members of the extended family to talk about family holiday traditions. Reinforce the need for children to show up every day possible around the holidays. Advertise a January event.
Launch an Attendance Olympics, providing gold, silver and bronze medals for children with good and improved attendance. Start the contest on the first day back from winter break and keep it going until spring break.
If you expect snow or wintry weather, brainstorm a plan for helping families get children to preschool. Work with the city public works department to prioritize sidewalks near preschools and schools or organize a shovel brigade.
Mark the 100th day of school with a celebration of the students and families with good and improved attendance.
Reinforce holiday messaging around spring break. Consider a reading celebration or family pajama party timed with the “Read Across America” celebration of Dr. Seuss’s birthday on March 3.
Plan a celebration just before spring break to recognize children and families. Honor parent volunteers during National Volunteer Week, the second week of April.
Begin thinking about kindergarten transition for 4-year-olds. Plan visits to kindergarten programs, arrange for kindergarten teachers to visit the classroom talk to children and families about registering for kindergarten and expectations, as well as the importance of on-time attendance.
Plan year-end activities recognizing students and families. When preparing to transfer student data from preschool to kindergarten, be sure to flag chronic absence issues. Awareness of preschool chronic absence patterns can help elementary school personnel reach out to families and help problem solve so children and families feel welcome, wanted and empowered for a productive start to elementary school.